With so many schools serving the community in the North West, it’s possible that some of them don’t always get the recognition they deserve for the great work they do.
St Brigid’s College in Derry could well be one such example.
Situated on the Glengalliagh Road in the heart of Greater Shantallow, St Brigid’s is an all ability co-educational college catering for almost 700 pupils drawn from all over the city.
Ms Marianna Doherty, the principal, said: The overall aim of St Brigid’s is to ensure our pupils acquire the knowledge and skills to enable them to develop into responsible members of their family, their church and their community.
“The school motto ‘Fide et Fidelitate’ embodies the Catholic ethos of St Brigid’s, through our faith and through our faithfulness.”
The school was substantially extended and refurbished at a cost of around £8 million and the new building was officially opened in February 2005. A superb all weather football pitch was added in 2009.
It offers modern facilities providing 21st Century education.
There is a tailored induction programme in place for incoming P7 pupils, which helps to ensure a smooth transition from primary to secondary school and class sizes are kept to 20 pupils.
St Brigid’s has in place specialised support for ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) pupils and there is a dedicated room which has been upgraded to provide modern facilities. Two full time members of staff have been appointed and are being trained to address the needs of the pupils.
Ms Doherty pointed out that study programmes at St Brigid’s are geared towards formal examinations for pupils of all abilities.
“We offer a wide range of subjects at both Key Stage 4 and Post 16. Our membership of the Foyle Learning Community allows us access to ‘A’ level courses in our partner colleges. These include, at present, Lisneal College, St Columb’s College, St Joseph’s Boys’ School, St Mary’s College and Thornhill College. This partnership has seen our 6th form group to over 100 pupils. Our partnership with the N.W.R.C has greatly enhanced our K.S.4 provision of vocational subjects.”
The principal continued: “St Brigid’s staff have high expectations for all pupils and so examination performance is important to us. Pupils at KS4 may be entered for GCSE, BTEC or Occupational Studies courses. The pupils are guided in their subject choices for KS4 to ensure they have the best chance of success.
“In recent years more of our pupils are choosing to return to St Brigids for ‘A’ Level study. We have also seen an increase in numbers from other schools. Our results at ‘A’ Level continue to improve and the majority of our leavers are able to enter the University course of their choice.”
Final year pupils can apply for the Fr Carolan Bursary (worth up to £4500) to help with University costs. At present this Bursary is being paid to over 20 pupils.
The school encourages both individual and team participation in local and national competitions. Pupils enjoyed a number of successes this year.
The school’s Young Enterprise Company had great success in The Company Programme competition in Northern Ireland this year, with their study guide “Studibuddy”. They won, Best Company Enterprise at the North West Regional Board Trade Fair 2012; Best Product at the North West Regional Board Trade Fair 2012; Innovation Award at the North West Regional Finals; IoD Entrepreneur of the Future Award; and North West Regional Winner was Sean O’Rourke, Year 13.
St Brigid’s also had notable success in football - girls and boys - Daniel Dillon was selected for N.Ireland U.18 team and scored the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Wales in April.
There was also success in GAA including the selection of Matthew McDermott as a Derry Vocational Schools All star while Aoife O’Hagan captained the Derry U14 Camogie team.
In Boxing, Michael Dunne and Daithi Glennon were Ulster Champions and Liam Glennon, All Ireland Champion.
St Brigid’s were also winners of the University of Ulster ‘Step Up’ cookery competition.
Niall Cooley was the winner of the “Foyle Cloud” logo competition and was presented with his prize, an iPad tablet, by Sir Ken Robinson at the Digital Derry event held in April.
Pupils are able to choose from a wide range of Extra-Curricular activities to suit all interests, with many provided under the Extended Schools’ programme. These activities range from academic classes through film and music societies on to practical and sporting clubs.
This ensures that the school building remains alive and active after normal class ends, a fitting testament to the ethos of this local community college.